Some Capital Region residents already looking towards Rio de Janeiro
The 2012 Summer Olympics are well underway in London. But it won't be until 2016, when rugby players can compete for a chance at gold. Rugby will be reintroduced as an official Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro. And as our Beth Croughan explains the Capital Region will play a pretty large role in trying to help bring Team USA back to the podium.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "(I'm) really honored and privileged to say that I'm an Eagle."
JoAnne Kos played for the USA Women's Rugby team for nearly a decade. And now, the Capital Region resident is helping train Olympic hopefuls.
"We got World Cup next year, but our focus is 2016 and Rio," said USA Rugby 7's Assistant Coach.
The sport hasn't been on the Olympic stage since 1924, when the US Men's team took home gold. "Everybody gets to handle the ball. And play with the ball and you get to run and tackle," Rob Sliwinski, the President of Rugby NY.
But it's being brought back to the games in Brazil in 2016. Though there will be seven players per side instead of the traditional 15.
"The Olympics starting this summer, from then on we'll be on a four-year cycle to the Brazil Olympics, and we're hoping we can get the US Teams, the hopefully men's and women's teams to be competing for gold medals," said Dr. Hamish Kerr of Albany Medical Center.
Dr. Kerr, an Albany Medical Center sports medicine specialist, has been selected to chair the USA Rugby Medical and Safety Committee. He's already a team physician, but will work to train medical staff in the best ways to prevent injuries.
"It's a big step up for rugby, and it's something I really hope would advance the sport in the country," he said of the inclusion into the Olympic games.
And something Kos and Sliwinski hope increases interest in the Capital Region. "With a lot of Olympic sports. A lot of the youth watch and you know idolize and admire..." said Kos.
There's already about 2000 youth athletes playing across the state. "And I think that's really when Rugby goes on in the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, that kids are going to be like, wow, what's that sport, it's fast and furious. let's try that," she added.